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updated: 5/15/2014 11:06 PM

The grand old game gets a high-tech scoring makeover

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  • Hersey assistant baseball coach Kevin Kelley keeps score the newfangled way.

       Hersey assistant baseball coach Kevin Kelley keeps score the newfangled way.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 

Kevin Kelley was one of the area's first high school baseball coaches to realize it was no longer necessary to have a pencil and scorecard ready to keep score of a game.

Kelley, who is in his 12th year as an assistant to Bob Huber at Hersey, used to keep score the old-school way. By the book.

That changed when Kelley went to the American Baseball Coaches Association convention the winter before the 2010 season. He saw an innovative new way to keep score on a mobile device called GameChanger, which received a Best In Show award at the convention.

"I said, 'This looks pretty cool,' " Kelley said. "I got an iTouch, downloaded it, started using it and said, 'We can use this.' "

Now, it's get your iPad or iPhone charged up and your stylus ready, as Kelley said all 12 teams in the Mid-Suburban League now use GameChanger. It was originally developed in 2009 by ex-minor league pitcher Ted Sullivan and it has become a fixture from youth to college levels.

Kelley originally started keeping score with GameChanger on his iPhone but now uses an iPad that Huber bought last year.

"It makes it a lot easier and now I can see it," Kelley joked.

It's also easy to see the positives of keeping track with GameChanger. In an age when pitch counts really matter, a pitcher's total is updated after each pitch thrown.

Scorekeepers can plug in where a batter hit the ball and then call up his spray chart the next time he comes to bat.

"I can position the outfielders dependent on the patterns and where it looks like he's going to hit it," Kelley said.

It also gives coaches the ability to easily track areas such as quality at-bats, the number of pitches seen by a hitter or how many first-pitch strikes thrown by a pitcher. Parents or friends who can't make it to a game can follow the action as it's happening.

Kelley said Palatine coach Paul Belo was also one of the pioneering coaches in the MSL to use GameChanger.

"I would try to promote it and tell all the coaches about it," Kelley said. "We would play some place, and I'd tell them about this, and some guys would say, 'OK, sure.'

"But it started picking up gradually and now everyone uses it."

Kelley said he inputs all the MSL rosters before the season. All of the coaches in the league have that information sent to them so starting lineups and changes can be completed quickly and easily.

Hersey still uses a scorebook as a backup in case there is some kind of technical glitch. But the days of Kelley having to take the book home to spend an hour or more completing a boxscore and updating season stats on his computer are long gone.

Kelley also laughed as he recalled how his old high school coach, Prospect legend Larry Pohlman, had to keep track of stats. When Kelley was an assistant coach, he said Pohlman had a manila folder with player names and boxes of statistical categories with small numbers that would need to be added up.

Now, immediately after a game ends, a team using GameChanger gets a full boxscore with game play-by-play and highlights and updated season stats. And if there is any problem, Kelley said the tech support people at GameChanger get back to him within an hour.

"So it has been a game changer," Kelley said.

• Marty Maciaszek is a freelance columnist for the Daily Herald. You can reach him at marty.maciaszek@gmail.com.

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